How to Get From Deployment Success to Enablement Success

Last week, I discussed how organizations share the content salespeople need with their sales teams. It was interesting to see, in contrast to the sales enablement hype, that the majority of organizations (51.6%) still share the content salespeople need along the entire customer’s path in very traditional ways, by e-mailing content to salespeople or by providing content in various repositories.

The data also showed that integrated enablement solutions, where salespeople can find the content they need in one place, can improve the percentage of salespeople achieving quota by 9.5%. This is an average value, which means some organizations don’t realize the expected success, and there are others that reach even higher numbers. Let’s discuss the underlying problem and what sales enablement leaders can do to get from deployment success to enablement success.

Implementing enablement technology (e.g., content, learning, coaching) is only the beginning. The go-live day of your enablement technology implementation is just a milestone that creates one of many prerequisites to drive enablement success. Enablement success, expressed in numbers your sales leaders care about, is the result of a tailored approach of change leadership, adoption and reinforcement efforts.

Let’s look at a few ideas that help enablement leaders get from deployment success to enablement success. All these ideas have one thing in common: engagement. Engage your salespeople, sales managers, sponsors and collaboration partners to make the investments a measurable success.

  • Timing matters: Collaborate with sales operations, sales leadership, and marketing
    Strategic initiatives are run not only by enablement teams, but by sales operations and sales leaders as well. To ensure the optimal success of your enablement initiative, timing matters, as does connecting the dots to the sales leaders’ additional strategic initiatives. The communication and change story has to be comprehensive to work. If the sales force is confused by too many initiatives at the same time and lacks a bigger picture that resonates with them, they will withdraw from everything, just like cats. If you are in a larger organization, you may need to adjust your initiatives with additional functions and entire business units. Your enablement charter should contain this information.
  • Communication and change leadership program
    Enablement leaders should always run an implementation, communication and change leadership program to make salespeople familiar with the new technology (and any other enablement initiative!) and the value that’s in for them. As in any change program, these “W questions” should be answered: Why do we need to change? What does it mean to me, what’s in it for me? When and how is this going to happen? What will remain the same? Creating a compelling change story that’s focused on the “why” is a critical success factor that must not be underestimated. It is equally important to use the communication channels salespeople and their managers prefer. So, know your target audience!
  • Collaboration with sales managers
    Let’s be honest here; enablement leaders can only do so much. Even if they follow all the necessary steps according to the textbook, they are just not the most important persons for salespeople. The most important person for them is their sales manager. If the frontline sales managers are not informed or don’t see value in terms of meeting their daily challenges in the market, they won’t support the rollout and won’t coach their salespeople accordingly. If they focus instead on different initiatives, the sales force will be confused and lose interest in adoption.
  • Sales coaching matters and enablement leaders can do a lot to make this happen
    I have shared lots of data regarding the huge performance impact of sales coaching, here and here. That’s one reason why we always recommend making sales managers a target audience for sales enablement. Developing their coaching capabilities, combined with the implementation of a formal coaching process that sits between the customer’s path and your internal selling processes, will pay off (think about improving the percentage of salespeople achieving quota by 27.6%). The prerequisites are that the coaching process is formally implemented, sales managers are engaged, equipped, empowered and required to coach accordingly, and that you connect your enablement initiatives to the coaching process. Imagine the coaching process as a mirror of your enablement efforts. Develop a small set of coaching guidelines that help sales managers to specifically coach to drive adoption and reinforcement of the initial enablement (tech) initiatives.

Effective enablement leaders know the difference between deployment success (“we reached a milestone”) and enablement success (“we measurably improved sales performance”).

Effective enablement leaders also know that the success of their (tech) initiatives depends on their capabilities to engage their primary audience and their collaboration partners to drive the necessary change together. They also understand the significant impact of their sales managers’ coaching capability, which is why they often prefer to enable the sales managers on their own. Also, successful enablement leaders know that whatever enablement initiative they run, technology is an essential means to an end, but not a solution by itself.

And, of course, if you haven’t already, have a look at our new book Sales Enablement – A Master Framework to Engage, Equip and Empower a World-Class Sales Force. Lots of “how to” information to address the challenges mentioned here.

Questions for you:

  • How do you ensure the success of your enablement technology investments?
  • How do you communicate your change story?
  • How do you master implementation challenges to drive adoption?
  • Do you also equip your sales managers regarding sales coaching?


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